Twitter Plot Summary: 28 days after a virus wipes out the UK, Jim wakes up in hospital and goes on his merry way. Sort of.
Five Point Summary:
1. Abandoned London. Striking.
2.Survivors, attacks, fires!
4.One drop of blood is all it takes.
5. Rage is in all of us, etc etc.
28 Days Later deserves much praise for reinvigorating the zombie genre and, pun intended, bringing it back from what had become a shuffling corpse thanks to a number of awful, low budget zombie films. Without this film, it’s unlikely that The Walking Dead would have made such an impact on television, or the Dawn of the Dead remake would have gained any traction on its release in 2004, in particular for its use of fast zombies.
Of course, strictly speaking 28 Days Later is not a zombie film. These aren’t living dead chasing after the survivors, instead they are infected with a rage virus so at their most basic level they’re just really angry – like football hooligans or anybody who’s been forced to watch a Miley Cyrus music video against their will. The virus is released from a science lab in good old Blighty and decimates much of the country. 28 days later, Jim (Murphy) wakes up in hospital from a coma – completely naked too – alone and with no clue as to what has gone down. He soon meets a couple of survivors, Naomie Harris’s Selena among them, who fill him in on the grizzly details. It then becomes a road journey as they, along with Londoner Frank (Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Burns) attempt to reach a military checkpoint where the cure may or may not be available.
There are a few minor issues that prevent it from being a cast iron classic. First and foremost is that the young girl playing Brendan Gleeson’s daughter is terrible. Every line of dialogue is delivered with a far too wooden tone, and the only time she appears to actually be playing the role is when she’s scared. The story also feels like it’s jumping into awkward territory once the soldiers get involved, although it maintains that element of believability that inspired it in the first instance, and perfectly demonstrates the inherent violence and rage that exists in all of us. Despite this, it does occasionally feel like it’s made a narrative jump that it can’t recover from, but it does at least have more going for it than one of the proposed endings involving a full blood transplant – silly indeed.
Still, if you ignore these relatively minor points, Danny Boyle has made a superb film that revitalised a genre. The scenes of an abandoned London and the famous landmarks are striking for their desolation, and the choice to shoot much of the film on standard Canon XL-1 cameras adds an air of harsh reality to events. John Murphy’s soundtrack perfectly matches the mood of the film, and is so effective the key theme in the climactic finale was used throughout sequel 28 Weeks Later. Boyle also proves to be a dab hand at action sequences – the attacks from the infected have the power to genuinely terrify, as does the fact a single drop of infected blood has the power to turn you. It all amounts to powerful cinema and a worthy entry into the zombie genre, whether they are living dead or otherwise.